By Richard Thomas
Sazerac acquired the Michael Collins Irish Whiskey brand last week from the Eagle Sellers, adding it to Concannon in their Irish whiskey portfolio.
Michael Collins was a sourced and bottled Irish whiskey, owned by the Sidney Frank Importing Company and drawing on stock provided by the Cooley Distillery. Cooley was a major supplier of stock to several of Ireland’s sourced whiskey brands, but when the Beam half of what is now Beam Suntory bought Cooley in 2012, the drinks giant began winding down Cooley’s sourcing contracts.
Closing down Cooley as a source of whiskey stock left many Irish bottlers out on the cold, and Sidney Frank sued Beam for $100 million, claiming breach of contract. That lawsuit was dropped earlier this year. Sidney Frank then sold the brand to Eagle Sellers, who in turn have sold it on to Sazerac.
What Sazerac intends to do with Michael Collins whiskey is unknown. Their Concannon brand was also sourced via Cooley, and with two sourced Irish whiskey brands based on uncertain supplies it is possible that Sazerac intends to follow in Brown-Forman’s footsteps. Brown-Forman, parentt company of Jack Daniel’s, bought another sourced Irish whiskey brand, Slane Castle, and recently broke ground on a new Irish distillery for them.